Island Cooking

Behind the Bar

by Chef Jenn Farmer

I stepped out of my element recently and did a little guest bartending at a friend’s pub (I am a chef by trade, so it is a bit different). Since it has been at least 5 years since I stepped behind a bar, and much longer since working at this particular one, I was in for a few surprises. The first was the overwhelming variety of flavored spirits now available—in fact, I think it is a bit ridiculous. Second, was the  overwhelming amount of shots that I have never heard of. Some were just new names for old drinks, but the rest were complicated concoctions made with all those new-fangled fancy flavored

Of course it was all twenty something’s ordering these funky drinks, with names like “Dill Pickle,” “Purple People Eraser,” and “Screaming Bloody Nazi” they all sounded creative and complicated to make. As I gave these kids my most quizzical look, and would say “never heard of it, what goes in
it?” If they began to list more than two types of alcohol or tried to explain how to layer it, I would yell over the crowd and music “pick another drink, I don’t have all the ingredients.” I know I am a bit irascible as it is, but it also was also Memorial Day weekend (AKA Figawi, yeah one of the busiest
weekends of the season), and with several deep at the bar, there was no time to be frivolous. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great deal of fun, and if it was not so busy, I would have obliged them.

I do find it interesting how different flavors combine and how they can trick our palate and remind us of something entirely different. Maybe that is the big difference between youth, and someone older like me, they have the time for frivolity, I just don’t.

The following recipe is about as frivolous as I get when making drinks.

The recipe does contain alcohol, but the presentation is great, and can be used for making any flavor of non-alcoholic gelatin following the package directions. They are actually really cute for a kids party or at an adult gathering (just NEVER confuse the two: that could be disastrous!). Try other flavors and colors for fun. I just loved the way the pale pink looked in the bright yellow lemon skins. Or here is an idea: make margarita-flavored shots, but use limes. I feel a party in the making!


  • 6 or more lemons
  • Two 3 ounce package lemon gelatin
  • one and one half cups boiling water
  • one and one half cups vodka (citrus flavored works best), chilled
  • Red food coloring (optional)

Cut the lemons in half lengthwise, and scoop out the insides (I reserve the insides for other recipes, and usually put a little of the fresh juice into the gelatin). The lemons should look like little bowls, and should be set up on a sheet pan. Dissolve the gelatin well in the boiling water, stirring well. Add the vodka and a small drop of food coloring to make it light pink, stir it carefully. Pour carefully into the lemons. Chill until firmtakes 3-4 hours usually. When they are all set up the lemons can be carefully cut with a sharp knife lengthwise into wedges of 3-4 per half lemon cup. Eat from the rinds. Yield is unknown, but serves many.

When it was not as busy I got to chatting with one of my favorite locals who loves to cook as much as I do. He told me about a new recipe he tried that was super easy, and turned out great. It contained pork butt that was slow cooked with chipotles and cola. Since I was working, I didn’t write down the ingredients, but found a similar recipe online, and made my own adaptation from it. His recipe called for plain cola, but I used Dr. Pepper in my recipe, and it turned out wonderfully. Next time I am going to use ginger beer, which I think will bring a very Caribbean flavor to the dish. Talk about a delicious dish. It was great on a freshly made corn tortillas, and served with some potato salad and corn on the cob (Ok I may have indulged in an ice cold beer which contributed to the delicious nature of the meal too). Although it can made in the oven or in a slow cooker, I used a pressure cooker with great results— and it didn’t heat up my kitchen. I am a big proponent of keeping the kitchen cool in the summer, and try to keep my oven turned off, preferring to use the grill or stovetop all summer.


  • 1 cup yellow onion, large diced
  • 1 whole pork shoulder (otherwise known as pork butt) about 6 or 7 pounds
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 cans of cola (or other cola you would like to experiment with)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the diced onions in the bottom of your pressure cooker, slow cooker, or roasting pan. If you are cooking the pork in the oven, preheat it to 300 degrees. Lay the pork butt on the bed of onions with the fatty side up, and then pour the can of chipotle peppers and sauce over the pork. If you are not keen on too much spice the amount of peppers can be reduced by half or more, but try to use as much of the adobo as you can in this case. Pour the cans of soda-pop over the meat then sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you are roasting it in the oven cover, and cook for about 6 hours. If you are using a slow cooker or pressure cooker follow the manufacturer’s directions. Test the meat for doneness at the end of the cooking time to see if it is fork tender. If it is not, it needs to cook longer until it is.

When the meat is tender, remove it carefully from the cooking pan, allowing as much of the sauce to run off into pan as possible. Place the pork on a work surface that will not allow too much juice to escape, so a baking dish or shallow bowl works well for this. Allow the pork to rest for ten or twenty minutes. This step allows the juices that are hot and flowing to cool a bit and absorb into the meat, keeping it juicy. It also makes it a little easier to work with when shredding the pork with forks or even your hands (I usually wear gloves though if using my hands, the peppers can sting, and can be difficult to wash off). Shred the pork well, discarding any tough connective tissue and fatty bits. When the pork is all shredded, skim the fat from the sauce that is left in the cooking pan and reserve it. Rewet
the pork with some of the cooking liquid before serving on a tortilla or freshly baked bun. Yields 16-20 servings

I would like to note we had quite a bit of leftover pork, and we made the best pizza and pizza rolls with the leftovers, but I can imagine this meat in a wrap with lettuce, tomato, and a little shredded cheddar, or blue cheese… Oh no! I think I have to make another batch tonight, because I want to try this meat in lots of dishes. In fact I am headed to the store for more ingredients right now!

Articles by Date from 2012